At 11:33PM, I received a call from my best friend’s wife asking me to come over because my friend, Jon, was upset and needed to talk to me. Luckily, I only lived a mile away and was able to throw on some clothes and head over. Apparently, Jon had been in a conversation about gender and sexuality that didn’t go well, and for him, those conversations are always personal. He always has a hard time separating those conversations from his transgender best friend.
When I got there, I sat next to him. I didn’t have words because I’d never seen him upset like that. So I just sat. And then something happened that I’d never experienced before. He started crying uncontrollably and he grabbed my hand. He pulled and held it against his chest with one hand and held onto my arm with other. We sat like that for a long time–crying and holding each other in a way that only best friends can.
I am 22-years-old, and that is the story of how I learned that I am bodied.
Perhaps being bodied should be obvious; after all, to be human is to be bodied. However, as a trans person (at least, as this trans person), being bodied is this weird too-distant-and-yet-too-close sort of thing. What I mean is, sometimes being bodied is suffocating, but most of the time, until recently, I just didn’t even want to think about it.
My time with Jon, though, felt like a submersion into bodied-ness. It felt like love, it felt like coming home, it felt like something that always was, and yet something that had never been before.
It felt like, for maybe the first time, a total merging of my body with myself.
As Jon held my arm against him, not only was I immersed into my bodied self, but it was a new kind of immersion into the Body of Christ. You see, in recognizing the importance and beauty of my own body, I am able to see the bodies of others with a new kind of clarity. I see the glorious ways in which they function, and in which they can be so close, and yet, never quite wholly unite. As he held my arm, I felt a kind of love for myself and for others that I hadn’t before and that I can only attribute to a new understanding of the Body of Christ.
Sometimes, when wrestling with church discipline or theological stances that tell me I shouldn’t be transgender, I start to doubt myself. This doubt can get painfully loud. But it’s in moments like this one with Jon that I realize my body–yes, even my trans body–is welcome in the Body of Christ. In Jon pulling me close, and in his tears over the split that has formed around gender and sexuality, I, without a doubt, felt Christ weeping and drawing me in alongside us.
Though I didn’t know how to explain it when I began transitioning, I decided to transition because of my continual dissatisfaction with my inability to recognize my bodied-ness, and my ever-stronger faith that it didn’t have to be that way. Thank God that now, three years into my transition to Brett, I can recognize my body’s existence and know that God created it as trans and as good.
A trans body and a good body are not, and never will be, antithetical.
Thank God for people like Jon who call me back into myself and into the Body of Christ when I forget how to even begin to live into that Body.
This is modified from a post originally published on the Reconciling Ministries Network blog on September 19, 2014.